Factory 5.1 combines Bowstreet's Portal Automator product with the Factory 5.0 development environment, bringing Web services and automation technology to enterprise portal development, the company said.
"We are seeing an impending collision between Web services and portals," said John Caron, director of marketing at Bowstreet. Combining portal and application development products made sense because "more than 90% of our customers already use our [factory] product to build some kind of portal", he said.
In addition, Web services can be used to create highly customised Web applications that are more adaptive to changes in business process, according to Ruth Seltzer, director of engineering at Bowstreet. For example, using Factory 5.1 enterprises can create customised portal applications, or portlets, with different behaviours that adapt and vary based on a specific process or situation, Seltzer said.
"Companies want to take in-house business process and expose it through a portal. They need to be able to build customised portlets that behave differently and integrate with different services, databases and back-end systems," she said.
The customised portlets can then be used with Bowstreet's portal or other portal products such as Sun ONE Portal Server or IBM WebSphere Portal.
With the repackaging move, Bowstreet is trying to stay competitive with application server offerings from vendors such as IBM and Sun, said Caron.
Bowstreet's Factory 5.1 is available with an Enterprise licence, a developer licence, or a new 60-day free evaluation licence, officials said.
In addition, Factory 5.1 aims to speed portal development by boosting developer productivity, company officials said. Portal Automator wizards can speed development by allowing developers to model and build customised portlets without the need for hand coding. Profile-based components called Builders can be reused across applications, reducing costs and errors, officials said.
"Now instead of taking five weeks to builds custom portals you can build an entire portal, using our product, in days," Caron said.
As the intersection of Web services and portals picks up steam, the ability to add context to portals is vital to spur adoption and provide insight into business information, company officials said.
In order to get more value out of portal infrastructure investments, enterprises "need to put that information in context, put it in a way that you can customise it based on the user and other contextual information so that it has an incredible amount of relevance to that end-user," Caron said.